Obstruction of justice is a complex crime that can be applied to many different situations. Police threaten to charge people with obstruction of justice in many situations that do not actually apply, and these situations sometimes end in long court battles. For help with obstruction of justice charges in Baltimore or the surrounding areas, contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras today.
Our Baltimore obstruction of justice lawyer can analyze the facts of your case and determine whether these charges are even appropriate in the first place. From there, we can build a defense case, negotiate to have charges dropped, and fight cases at trial to help you with your case. We will work to protect your rights and advocate for you. Call us today at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free case consultation.
Obstruction of Justice Laws in Baltimore, MD
The crime of “obstruction of justice” is a specific crime, but there are multiple other crimes in Maryland that fall under the header of “obstructing justice” crimes under Title 9, Subtitle 3 of the Maryland Criminal Code.
The specific crime of obstruction of justice under Md. Code, Crim. Law Art., § 9-306 is the crime of using “threat, force, or corrupt means” to “obstruct,” “impede,” or attempt to obstruct or impede “the administration of justice in a court.” Simplifying this, the crime of obstruction of justice is the crime of interfering with court functions through threats or force. This crime is quite general and tends to cover things that do not fit into other specific crimes.
Some other crimes that deal with obstructing justice (that are not “obstruction of justice” itself) involve acts like inducing false testimony under § 9-302, retaliation for testimony under § 9-303, juror or witness intimidation under § 305, and evidence tampering under § 9-307. In addition, there are other crimes for making false statements to law enforcement or making false statements while under arrest (§ 9-501 and § 9-502, respectively). These and other crimes cover conduct that could fit under “obstruction of justice,” but instead have a more specific statute they can be charged under.
If you are accused of doing something that falls into one of these more specific categories, then charges of obstruction of justice might be inappropriate. However, this will not get you out of criminal charges entirely; it would simply mean that the government needs to change which statute you are charged under.
What Constitutes Obstruction of Justice in Baltimore?
Because the definition of obstruction of justice under § 9-306 is very broad and other laws are very specific, it is difficult to understand what exactly qualifies for charges under § 9-306. As mentioned, charges that fit better under another statute should be charged there instead – so what is left to charge under the obstruction of justice statute?
The following examples of obstruction of justice could help you understand what qualifies for criminal charges in Maryland:
- Preventing an officer from investigating a crime
- Tampering with court records and subpoenas to delay or end a court case
- Physically preventing court officials from accessing the courtroom
- Seeking to prevent witness testimony
Many of these things could overlap with other obstruction statutes, but anything that does not fit squarely into those categories could be charged under the obstruction of justice statute instead.
Penalties for Obstruction of Justice in Baltimore
If you are arrested and convicted for obstruction of justice, you could face time in jail and serious fines. Obstruction of justice is a misdemeanor and can result in up to 5 years in jail. Additionally, you can face fines of up to $10,000.
The other obstruction crimes range from being less severe to more severe. For instance, destroying evidence can result in up to 3 years in jail and fines up to $5,000, but witness intimidation can result in up to 20 years in prison if the case that was obstructed was a crime of violence.
Talk to a lawyer about the potential penalties in your case. It is possible that you could qualify for probation or other alternative penalties to keep you out of jail. Probation could involve long-term court supervision but might allow you to avoid incarceration.
How Can I Fight Obstruction of Justice Charges in Baltimore?
If certain defenses apply to your case, your attorney might be able to get obstruction of justice charges dropped and dismissed.
One of the first defenses is police overreach. Often, police officers do not have the grounds that they need to charge people with obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice does not make it a crime to say no to a police officer in most cases. If the police did not have probable cause to charge you with obstruction of justice and what you did does not meet the legal definition of any crime, the charges should be dismissed immediately and cleared from your record.
Another defense is a complex point of legal doctrine. Typically, obstruction of justice charges must have some “nexus” to a criminal investigation or proceeding. That means that if what you did was not related to any criminal case that was underway, the charges might be invalid. However, obstructing some general court functions could still be illegal (e.g., stopping court functions by calling in a bomb threat).
Other defenses could involve challenging the facts of the case, challenging the legality of the arrest, and more.
Call Our Baltimore Obstruction of Justice Defense Lawyer for a Free Case Consultation
If you or a loved one was charged with obstructing justice in Baltimore, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras today. Our Baltimore obstruction of justice lawyer represents the accused and works to get cases dropped and dismissed. For help with your case, call the Maryland criminal defense lawyer our law offices today to set up a free case consultation. Our phone number is (410) 694-7291.